On the map Cardigan Bay didn’t look that big. At one point Michal was toying with the idea of crossing it from Strumble Head. But the enormity of the firing range and the distance, about 45NM, changed his mind. We liked our time at Steve’s, even more when he came to New Quay the following morning with his friends to help us to get the boats to the water.
And so we went on and on. What made it so long for us was the fact that it all had just one name, Cardigan Bay. The last crossing didn’t help either, it looked fairly small on the map, it was just a corner of a bay, but it was long, slow and tiring.
On the other hand we had some great glimpses of the wild life.
And food wasn’t bad either, good we have to go to public houses to check their WiFi.
Today we were slow to start, not till two hours before the end of the morning tide. This put us in front of a decision, paddle through Brandsey Sound and then struggle against the tide as far as we were able to. Or stay somewhere close to the headland and catch the early morning one tomorrow. We choose the second option, as we are not Martin king.
This gave Michal the opportunity to shorten his beard and hair, so he can see and be seen again!
And I could indulge in some basic domestic chores.
Our stay at Lundy was longer than planned but pleasant nevertheless. After the first beautiful day of the first rest day we had the pleasure to listen to fog horn for two days. It was also windy and rained a lot. On the other hand Lundy’s library shelves were well stocked and both of us had an opportunity to read two books while we were there.
On our fourth day we had the opportunity to witness and learn about bird watching. Not that we learnt any more names and species of birds. But we witnessed what a rigorous sport it is. It is important to note every spotted bird in special book, and to add your personal details and of course details about the bird. All in pencil! And then it gets competitive how many of such birds were already spotted, who was first, who saw most and so on. Maybe when we finish with kayaking we would become bird watchers.
Four days we stayed at Lundy, had very good food, good rest but the time to move on came. We got up early and left just after six. Everything was very quiet while we followed the coast of the island and only the seals came to sing good bye. This bliss lasted only a short while, once past the shelter of the island the sea became moderate and wind increased. But hoping the forecast was right we carried on. Fortunately it all calmed down lately. The crossing picked up its pace and soon we could see land all around us, Lundy at south west, North Devon at south east, Gower Peninsula at north east and our destination at north. We only couldn’t see any land at our west as America is little bit too far.
Just when the crossing started to be little bit too routine a seal appeared. He looked a bit breathy as if chasing us from Lundy. He must have been tired as he tried to climb up on our kayaks. Fortunately he preferred orange colour to red, but tried to get on both boats in turns. For a while it was fun, till we realised that it was very determinate seal and if we wanted to stay upright we better kept moving, since he couldn’t get on a boat in motion.
But seals obviously learn quickly, he disappeared for a bit and we thought we got away, but the second time he joined us, he was not afraid to get on board and catch a ride while the vessel was moving. And so water taxis we became.
In the end we were saved by the wind and the change in a sea state back to moderate and the seal was gone. The rest of the journey went smoothly without any major events.
We landed in Freshwater East and met local farmer Andrew, who may take us to the shop in the morning, since we have later start and he offered to help.
This morning we woke up at 4 am ready to check the weather for one more time, have a quick breakfast, pack our tent, go to the harbour and paddle north. So we switched our phones on and were waving them above our heads for a good 15 minutes to get both, Metoffice and XCWeather forecast. Then we started to think again. It was not very good but it was not too bad either.
What shall we do? They predicted some wind F4,5,6, some rain and some fog. Nothing too bad if taken one at the time, but it was a combination we did not like. Also forecast for the next two days was even worst. So should we be brave it and go otis it stupid to go? Or is it better to be safe and stay or are we just too soft? Are we risking to loose a grip with our circumnavigation deciding to stay, risking being stuck here or are we risking to get to trouble with the same consequences by deciding to go?
We knew we should have gone yesterday but since we are only human, we really needed the day off.
So in the end we decided to ignore forecast for the next day or two as it would not make today’s paddle any easier and made up our minds.
We are going nowhere today.
Are we brave to decide to stay safe? Or just too soft? Or stupid to loose so many days?
That’s something we may never find out.
Decision is made, now it’s time to wait and look forward for next weather window.
After failing with coastal navigation the previous day we decided to practice some open water navigation and cross to Lundy. We have heard so much about it that we just could not resist and miss it during our trip. When doing our numbers at Hartland Quay we could see conditions are not perfect but we felt confident about the crossing. Although Natalie was asking whether doing it late in the afternoon and evening was wise. I thought it was.
It was spring tide and tidal window was quite late. We planned to leave just before 6pm and arrive there shortly after the tide turns, after 9pm. As soon as we left some heavy showers came and both the island and land disappeared from view. Maybe we should have taken it as warning. Natalie was also pointing out that the waves were slightly bigger but I reassured her it was due to being close to shore. Well they got smaller further from the land, but only in some extend. Never mind we paddled keeping our bearing and all looked fine, even the island appeared in sight again.
This lasted till we reached Lundy with about 1 mile left. Then the dark came, and waves became bigger. In a minute or two it became clear we are in the middle of tide race. Not something Natalie likes, especially when going with the waves. Mind you, it was spring tide and looked like it, too. Now I understand why our friend from club, Nick, doesn’t want to make the crossing during spring tide. We were surfing towards Lundy for as long as possible, but once it became too much, we had to turn against the waves and go with the flow to get out of it. Now we were risking missing the island and paddling back to mainland but still better than swimming that direction.
Fortunately soon we were out of it and could make it to the island in an eddy. We had to squeeze between rocks in complete darkness and in the end push the boats across very shallow bit into the landing bay. I have to say we learned a lot. Next time I will allow more time for daylight. Also I underestimated the tide race, I did not expect it to build within half hour after turning of the flow. The rest of the lesson I am happy to share with people over a pint. Natalie learnt that she can handle bigger condition than she previously thought. And she needs to carry more safety equipment on her (not on a boat) which she always resists and now she understands why I want her to be attached to the boat when conditions are too windy or too big. As for the photos they were taken every time by Natalie while I needed pee. But we may not be able to upload them just now due to weak connection. Today we have an expensive rest day on Lundy, landing fee, campsite, you even have to hire a towel, can’t charge stuff in the pub, and so on, very strict.
Natalie & Michal have made it to Lundy Island tonight at around 21:51